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The Media Must Also Repent

By Michael Freund
9/25/2006, 12:00 AM

Well, it's that time of year on the Jewish calendar – the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the holy Day of Atonement.

It is a time for reflection and for introspection, for looking in the mirror and tackling our flaws and our faults head-on and making amends.

It is a special opportunity, a chance to improve ourselves and our society – so in the spirit of these exceptional days, here is some unsolicited advice for a central institution in our lives that desperately needs a dose of repentance – and just who might that be? Well, of course, it is none other than…. the media.

Monkeys1 – Stop Distorting the News – As we know, the mainstream media has a nasty habit of twisting the news out of shape, failing to convey the entire story, and ignoring important factors such as context and history. Time and again we see this in how the news from Israel is reported – giving people false impressions, partial information and tendentious perspectives on what is happening. Suggestion #1 for the media: start delivering the news rather than distorting it.

2 – Stop Confusing Opinion with Fact – In an ideal world, we would be able to follow events without being able to detect the opinions of those who report it. All too often, however, this doesn't prove to be the case, as journalists allow their beliefs to shape what they report and how they do so, in many instances making little or no effort to conceal their bias. Looking for an example? Just watch how US President George W. Bush is covered by most mainstream media outlets America. Suggestion # 2 for the media: try harder to separate your opinions from the facts you are trying to convey.

3 – Start Being More Patriotic – The mainstream media often fears sounding too patriotic, because they confuse patriotism with jingoism. But when your country is at war – whether against Hizbullah terrorists or Al-Qaeda jihadists – there is nothing wrong with showing a little national pride. Why do so many Americans turn to Fox News? Probably, in part, because they are tired of hearing the drumbeat of how relentlessly wrong their country is on other networks, which often seem bent on "faulting America first". Suggestion # 3 for the media: start remembering that when the bad guys say they want to kill all Americans or Israelis, that press pass of yours won't help you all that much.

There are, of course, many other areas in which the media needs to improve. But repentance is often be a step-by-step process – and the steps described above would be a good place for them to start.